I Sleep, but I’m always TIRED… Maybe its my Thyroid

I Sleep, but I’m always TIRED… Maybe its my Thyroid

I Sleep, but I’m always TIRED… Maybe its my Thyroid

Depending on which source you look at, Thyroid conditions affect women somewhere between 4 and 10 times more than men. The Thyroid Foundation of Canada states that about 5% of the world population is affected and the Australian Thyroid Foundation adds that 1 million Australians currently have an undiagnosed Thyroid issue (that’s 1 in 25 people!). As rates of thyroid conditions (especially hypothyroidism) tend to increase as we age and we have an aging population, we may expect to see numbers increase further. The Thyroid Foundation of Canada goes on to state that Thyroid disorders are very treatable. Given that a large percentage of the affected population is unaware of their situation, this would lead to a substantial number of people, unnecessarily feeling fatigue, irritability, discomfort and with an inability to be fully productive.

What is the Thyroid?

The Thyroid gland is an important part of the endocrine system. Its job is to control many bodily functions via secreting hormones – T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). They regulate the body’s temperature, metabolism and heart rate and in doing so affect many areas. The Pituitary (and Hypothalamus) glands monitor and control the amount of T3 & T4 that the Thyroid releases. Thyroid conditions create either a state of Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism, that is, too much or too little thyroid hormone production, respectively.

Causes:

Thyroid disorders may be caused by iodine deficiency; autoimmune diseases (namely Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease); viral and bacterial induced inflammation (thyroiditis); congenital; malignant (cancerous) and benign tumours/nodules on the thyroid gland, disfunction of the pituitary or Hypothalamus glands; or as a result of some treatments (surgical removal of the thyroid gland [or part there of] & toxic changes from radioactive iodine therapy).

Symptoms

Symptom combinations tend to vary as there are many factors involved, further, as symptoms tend to start slowly and gradually progress, it may take a while for sufferers to realise that they are not just tired or stresses etc.

Hypothyroidism

  • weak slow heart beat
  • muscular weakness and constant fatigue
  • sensitivity to cold
  • thick puffy skin and/or dry skin
  • pale and cold (maybe clammy) skin
  • poor appetite
  • brittle hair
  • voice may be croaky and hoarse
  • slowed mental processes and poor memory
  • weight gain/difficulty losing weight
  • constipation
  • goitre (increased size of the thyroid)

Hyperthyroidism

  • rapid, forceful heartbeat
  • tremor/shaking/palpitations
  • muscular weakness (due to muscle loss)
  • weight loss (due to muscle and fat loss) in spite of increased appetite
  • restlessness/irritability, nervousness/anxiety and sleeplessness
  • profuse sweating
  • heat intolerance
  • hot, moist skin
  • diarrhea
  • eye changes (generally bulging)
  • goitre (increased size of the thyroid)

Treatment:

Hypothyroidism

Generally is treated by medicating with T4 thyroid hormones (and sometime T3 also). This is a life-long treatment and requires frequent blood test monitoring.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition creating a low level of Thyroid hormones and is the most common cause of Hypothyroidism. As with all autoimmune diseases, the immune system is over-active and is associated with inflammation. A diet and lifestyle that reduces inflammation and supports the immune system to balance, may be of benefit in combination with medication and monitoring. It is also worth noting that generally only T4 hormone medication is given, but some people respond better with a combination of T3 & T4 hormone medications. Further, some people find that animal derived Thyroid hormones are more effective for them than the synthetic medications. So be aware that there are a few options out there and if your symptoms are not responding as expected, some experimentation with the support and guidance of your GP is possible.

Lifestyle changes that may assist in the management of hypothyroidism include:

  • Reducing gluten intake
  • Checking MTHFR gene function and your body’s ability to absorb and use Folic acid/folate/folinic acid effectively – and supporting maximal function
  • Reducing stress
    • meditation
    • exercise
  • Supporting Adrenal overload and the body’s stress response
    • taking adaptagenic herbs (such as Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola and Ashwaganda)
    • B vitamin supplements
  • Supporting Kidney and Liver functions and the body’s detoxification processes
    • Milk Thistle
    • Dandelion
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet
    • Avoid gluten, dairy, red meat, processed sugar, packaged foods
    • Adding turmeric, omega 3, green leafy vegetables
  • Supporting optimal Thyroid function
    • Vit B3 & 6
    • Selenium
    • Vit C
    • Vit D
    • Magnesium
    • Iodine
    • Salt balance (electrolytes) – using water, sea salt and honey

Hyperthyroidism

Graves’ Disease (a genetic autoimmune disease) is the most common cause of Hyperthyroidism. Nodules on the Thyroid (cancerous or benign) and Thyroiditis caused by viral or bacterial infection can also be causes.

Treatment is based around reducing the levels of thyroid hormone in the body. This can be done via

  • Thyroid blocking drugs
  • Destroying thyroid cells with radioactive iodine
  • Surgically removing the thyroid gland (partial or complete)

While medical treatment is required, a healthy lifestyle may generally support optimal response to treatment, your general health and your resilience.  

It is also important to note that the treatment of Hyperthyroidism may result in a subsequent hypothyroid state, meaning that Thyroid hormone medication may be required.


Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

In part 1 and part 2, we discussed the symptoms and causes of chronic pain and the basics of an effective treatment and management plan. Let’s discuss what you can do NOW to help improve your situation.

Many structures are in the pelvis, underneath the bladder, bowel and uterus. All these structures can irritate each other if inflamed, enlarged, irritable or tight. Gaining improvement can be as simple as reducing irritability to just 1 of these structures, or it may require addressing all of them.

While effective treatment and management requires a multi-faceted approach, there are a number of lifestyle modifications that can be easily implemented to start reducing triggers, allowing the nerves more mobility and reducing the nervous system tension in order to directly impact the negative cycle and start increasing comfort now.

Tip # 1:

Minimise activities that tend to trigger and aggravate pudendal and perineal nerve irritation such as:

  • riding a bicycle (especially for long periods)
  • horse riding
  • jumping (for example, on a trampoline)
  • intense exercise
  • lifting weights (anything over 5 kg is too much)
  • anything that causes intense pain (if 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain imaginable, do not go over a pain scale of 7/10).

Tip # 2:

For any activity where you know pain comes on after a certain period of time (for example sitting for more than 5 minutes):

  • Ensure that you set an alarm and only sit for 4 minutes at any one time.
  • When the alarm goes off – get up!
    • go to the toilet or get a drink or stretch before continuing to sit
    • when sitting again, ensure the alarm is set for another 4 minutes.

Tip # 3:

Ensure you have good posture in any activities you perform for a prolonged time (more than a few minutes). Get ergonomic advice if required.

For sitting:

  • ensure that your knees sit at the same level or slightly lower than your hip joints.
  • allow your pelvis to rotate forward slightly, keeping a slight extension in your lower back – this happens naturally when your knees are lower than your hips, helping to keep the natural spinal curves.

This ensures your back is “straight” with your head sitting directly over your pelvis.

It also helps your shoulders to sit in a good position, not rounded forward or held up high towards your ears.

  • Make sure that you don’t lean on your elbows or put too much pressure on your wrists (or you will get elbow or wrist strain injuries) (it also pushes your shoulders up and tends to make you lean to one side).
  • ensure that your feet are flat on the floor (use a floor stool if required for comfort)
  • ensure the seat is cushioned a little (especially if you have pudendal nerve pain) – you can use a doughnut ring if pain is more severe.

Tip # 4:

Lie with your legs up the wall for 5-10 minutes in the evenings

  • lie on your back, on the floor with your shoulders relaxed and rotated backwards
  • get your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Adding a cushion underneath your bottom to raise the angle of your pelvis.
  • place your legs up the wall and relax (you could use a meditation or relaxation app at the same time)
  • only stay for 5 minutes initially, but if it gets painful, stop. Aim to get to 10 minutes per night.

This exercise

  • allows pain relief in the pelvic area – for vaginal issues, haemorrhoids, pudendal nerve pain, period pain and also assists with reducing pressure associated with incontinence issues
  • increases blood return to heart, therefore helps with venous return in general and varicose veins/haemorrhoids etc
  • allows the spine to relax and lengthen after a day of compression forces from standing and sitting.

Tip # 5:

Avoid straining on the toilet

  • To avoid constipation, it’s important to keep hydrated, eat healthy fruit and vegetable fibre, exercise regularly and use a natural laxative if necessary (avoid stimulant laxatives).
  • Don’t sit for extended periods as this stretches the ligaments and increases the pressure in the wrong spots increasing likelihood of pain around the buttock (inferior cluneal nerve) or haemorrhoids. If it’s not coming, stop and go for a little walk and come back when you feel more ready.
  • Aim to sit correctly on the toilet (not squat over it) as this tends to constrict rather than relax the area, increasing downward pressure and reducing ease of toileting.

Tip # 6:

Perform a relaxation and strengthening program for the pelvic floor muscles daily.

  1. Start by massaging the perineum to help relax the pelvic floor muscles, relax the nervous system and improve circulation in the area
  2. In the bathroom or a private area, use a small amount of unscented, natural oil (coconut, olive or jojoba are best)
  3. Locate the area right in the middle – between your anus and your vagina in women or base of the penis in men
  4. Use 2 fingers with the oil and gently rub that central area in a clockwise motion for 20 rotations
  5. Then gently rub in a counter clockwise motion for another 20 rotations.

Use a simplified Kegel-reverse Kegel pelvic floor exercise to help your pelvic floor re-learn to strengthen its contraction as well as relax when contraction is not needed (many issues are due to an over-tense pelvic floor).

  1. Sit or stand with good posture, feeling your head being pulled up in the centre, your shoulders relaxed and back a little, your chest “out”, your natural back curves present and not accentuated and equal pressure either through both sit bones or through the front and back of both feet.
  2. As you breathe in, allow your pelvic floor to relax – feeling that centre point (located in the previous exercise) drop, and breath in for a count of 4-5.
  3. As you breathe out, allow your pelvic floor to gently contract and pull together – feeling that centre point gently squeeze together and up towards your pelvic organs and breathe out holding that squeeze for a count of 6-7.

Tip # 7:

Alter sexual activities. Some people find that sex is painful or that afterwards, symptoms seem to worsen.

  • Always use a gentle lubricant (that works for you – jojoba oil is great)
  • Using a relaxation technique may be of benefit
  • Play around with positions to find what is most comfortable for you.

If you would like to chat about your situation, drop us an email, call, or book an appointment with Alexis.


 [JH1]Link to previous articles on website

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 2: The basis of management and treatment

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 2: The basis of management and treatment

In part 1, we shared some of the causes and symptoms of pelvic dysfunction. In part 2, we discuss chronic pain (as compared to an acute condition) and why chronic pain can be so complicated to deal with effectively. It’s important to understand what’s going on in your body first, so that you can work out the steps you need to take in order to help heal yourself. It also helps you feel more confident in your approach and in the fact that improvement CAN happen, as well as give you motivation to keep going (healing has good and bad days and times when it feels like nothing is changing, then suddenly, but only after consistent action, things improve and you suddenly realise, the pain you “always” had is no longer there).

Pelvic dysfunction is a complicated subject, because:

  1. There are so many variations of pelvic dysfunctions and symptoms.
  2. There are multiple possible causes and a large number of associated factors and triggers.
  3. It’s a taboo subject so most people don’t want to talk about it.
  4. People don’t generally ask their GP or health practitioner for help for the above reason and don’t realise that there is anything that can be done to help.
  5. People don’t talk to their physical/manual therapists (such as their Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist) as they don’t expect that lifestyle factors and muscle imbalances can be an easily treated part of the solution.

Because of these above issues, it often becomes a chronic pain condition. But what exactly is a chronic pain condition?

The definition of chronic pain is any pain that extends beyond the expected healing time for an injury. Generally, it’s accepted that most tissues have healed by 12 weeks. So, any pain that has continued for longer than 3 months is chronic pain. Conversely, acute pain is any pain condition that has resulted from a direct injury and is still within its expected tissue healing time (thus any pain less than 3 months old).

The brain is a pain modulating unit. That means that any pain stimulus, via nerves, alerts the brain to a potential issue and the brain then uses all the information it can gather before deciding if there is a problem or a potential problem and how dangerous it is. The intensity of the pain we feel is based on the brain’s interpretation of the level of injury or danger at hand. The information the brain uses to decide is vast and includes things like past experience, imminent danger in our surroundings (such as a car coming straight for you) and our fear levels.

Because of this, the brain is able to turn up or down the volume of pain you feel based on its need to keep you safe. Generally, the more threat there is to further harm, the louder the pain signals one feels. Yet, because the brain’s job is to keep us safe, it can turn down the level of pain to allow necessary action, hence the “apparent paradox” in stories you may have heard when for example a person has badly broken their leg, yet managed to walk many kilometres to get to help or run from an explosion etc.

However, when pain continues for extended periods, the wiring in the brain for that location begins to change. Just as a dirt path used over and over again gets deeper, so does the neural pathway. This means that the brain becomes hyper aware of that area of the body and is over sensitive to any nerve input that comes from that location, alerting us to potential injury, via pain, even if there is no risk.

Can you remember a time when you got a cut on your finger and it became inflamed? That area may have begun to feel painful even at the slightest touch such as the gentle swiping of fabric across it? In fact, even the adjacent finger sometimes feels painful, for no apparent reason. This is an example of sensitisation.

This is further intensified by our interpretation of the situation, such as how bad the injury is, our belief that any movement that causes pain is in fact worsening the injury and slowing or preventing healing, the level to which our injury has been affecting our daily life and functioning, and our fear that this situation will never end and might only get worse.

As you can see, the brain collects information from many places and can be influenced by many factors including our individual interpretation of what is happening to us. Thus, we feel increased pain when

  • our general levels of stress are high
  • we avoid all activities that hurt (including ones that help heal) because we believe they are damaging us
  • we fear having pain in general – because
    • it’s not nice
    • we believe that there is something wrong and we are making it worse
    • we don’t understand the biology of our situation
    • we fear that we’ll never improve and we catastrophise the worst about what that might mean for our future
    • we’re afraid that there is something seriously wrong with us.

These factors make treating chronic pain more difficult because in fact the tissues, while they may not be functioning correctly are not “damaged” anymore, so one cannot just deal with the “damaged” tissues nor just the musculoskeletal imbalances that are perpetuating the functional symptoms (such as reduced strength or movement).

Indeed effective management and treatment must therefore deal with as many of the above-mentioned types of psychological aspects as well as the physical factors. This requires education (about pain and the specific process happening in one’s own body), lifestyle modification, minimising triggers, reducing stress, increasing neural relaxation, education and techniques for learning to deal with always having pain (in some cases), rehabilitation exercises and more. Further, all of these components are unique to the individual, so body awareness, support and guidance, and some trial and error are required to build the correct plan of action. Given this complicated and individual nature of chronic pain, I hope the importance of a multi-factorial approach, starting with education and body awareness, is clear.

Once we understand the injury we have, the biology of pain and what is happening inside us, and which activities, if any, to avoid, our fear is reduced. We can also be confident in a stretching and strengthening program and doing activities that cause pain as we understand the difference between hurt and harm. This gives us control, piece of mind and discipline to continue the healing activities required to balance the tissues in the area and re-wire the brain to reduce its pain alert system. Further, we can understand the reason behind any lifestyle, habitual activity and postural modifications as well as stress reduction techniques required, making compliance easier.

Ok, so it’s complicated, where do I go for help?

 A practitioner who has some specific knowledge about pelvic pain and dysfunction is important (potentially an Osteopath, Chiropractor, Physiotherapist or even Acupuncturist – but you need to ask). A good practitioner can:

  • help you deal with the musculoskeletal imbalances and give you exercises
  • discuss and explain chronic pain with you and how you can use techniques and exercises to help re-wire your brain
  • assist with neuro-feedback, to ensure that you are using your pelvic floor correctly and give you both pelvic floor strengthening AND relaxation exercises
  • give advice on correct toileting techniques and support and training for lifestyle interventions to treat different types of incontinence issues (urge and stress)
  • assist with medicated creams, medications and referral to surgical (laser etc) interventions IF and only if necessary (generally a GP or gynaecologist – but you need to ask specifically, and I would recommend seeing a specialist gynaecologist for this type of thing as with a practitioner at Sydney’s WHRIA clinic who are researchers and leaders in this field and have minimal invasive and best results-based interventions).

If you would like to chat about your situation, drop us an email, call, or book an appointment with Alexis.

Stay tuned for part 3 where we share 7 simple tips to improve your situation NOW.


Read Part 1 now

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 1: Shhh we can’t talk about that!

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 1: Shhh we can’t talk about that!

Do you suffer from:

  • incontinence (urinary or bowel)
  • urinary frequency; urgency
  • bowel or bladder irritation (with or without pain; can feel like a full sensation)
  • pain (electric shock like, shooting, aching, itching or a raw feeling) of your clitoris, vagina, labia (or penis, scrotum), urethra or perineum (space between your vagina [or scrotum] and your anus)
  • Pain around your sit bone(s) when you sit (especially for long periods)
  • Pain during sex (or afterwards)
  • Pain in your buttocks that may often or sometimes travel down your leg and foot (can be one sided or affect both legs).

Did you know that help is available?

In this three-part series, you’ll learn about the key symptoms and causes of pelvic dysfunction, pain and incontinence. We’ll touch on chronic pain and discuss the basis of an effective management and treatment program. We’ll also reveal 7 simple actions to help you take control of your health and improve your individual symptoms of pelvic pain and dysfunction.

This is a difficult and sensitive subject and often not discussed due to its private nature.

It’s important to realise that in many cases there is a lot that can be done to help – there is no need to suffer in silence!

Symptoms can be wide-ranging, and diagnosis can’t be confirmed with just one test. Instead it requires a look into your personal symptoms and a physical assessment of your pelvic structures to identify imbalances of the joints, ligaments and muscles (tightness, weakness etc) and locations where nerves can become irritated and “trapped”.

Symptoms:

Can include (but are not limited to)

  • pain in the buttocks around where you sit (sometimes in the legs and feet too)
  • sharp, electric type shooting pain around or even within the vagina in women and scrotum (or even shaft of the penis) in men
  • pain during (or after) sex
  • bladder or bowel irritation/discomfort/incontinence/frequency/urgency
  • Pain that can refer or radiate to include part of, or even the length of the leg (generally down the outside) and even go down into the bottom of the foot.

Causes:

There is no one cause, and generally multiple factors are involved

  • Pudendal nerve entrapment – including from
    • long periods of cycling
    • excessive physical exercise
    • straining (from heavy lifting or straining on the toilet)
    • stress
    • posture
    • previous pelvic or perineal trauma/injury
  • Musculoskeletal imbalances – including from
    • long periods of cycling
    • excessive physical exercise
    • straining (from heavy lifting or straining on the toilet)
    • stress
    • posture
    • previous pelvic or perineal trauma/injury
  • Neuropathic (nerve related) pain
  • Trauma – including from
    • difficult childbirth
  • gynaecological and/or colorectal surgery or issues (eg internal abdominal adhesions or uterine fibroids and the like)
  • Infection (including skin conditions).

If you’re suffering from any of the above issues, or some sort of dysfunction of the pelvic/lower abdominal area or genital region, it’s likely that an in-depth history and physical assessment plus a multi-pronged treatment approach can be of great assistance. So, talk to a primary health practitioner (pelvic physiotherapist, GP or Osteopath for example) and find out more. If the advice you receive does not seem logical or if you don’t receive the options that help you gain back control, we suggest you try another practitioner, until you get the support you need.

And remember, working with a combination of such practitioners to get an integrated and diverse treatment and home care plan is your best chance of success.

If you would like to chat about your situation, drop us an email, call, or book an appointment with Alexis.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we discuss chronic pain and its complicated nature as well as the basic idea behind effective treatment and management of pelvic pain and dysfunction.

Author: Dr Alexis Weidland(Osteopath)

For a strong immune system and the best health throughout winter:

For a strong immune system and the best health throughout winter:

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As we discussed in our previous blog, listening to the natural energies of winter, allows us to create the best balance between our bodies and the external environment, that we can. Being colder seems to naturally fit with being more internally focused, making winter the best time to recharge our batteries.
Like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we at Blossoming Me, are very much focused on preventative measures, to naturally protect ourselves against bacterial infections, flu and other viruses. The more balanced our system is, the stronger our defences against whatever we may be exposed to. For a strong immune system and the best health throughout winter, rest more and engage in gentle exercise to keep your energy flowing and use good nutrition to ensure that adequate vitamins and minerals are available and easy for the body to absorb.
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Gentle exercise is the go in the colder weather. So, when you are freezing and hiding under a blanket, you can come out and warm up, with just 20 minutes of moderate exercise.
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Boost your circulation, warming even your fingers and toes, raise your core body temperature, support your lymphatic and immune systems and aid digestion, as well as giving you a natural buzz from the feel-good endorphins, hormones that your body releases naturally when exercising.
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Our bones are the part of the body TCM associates with winter and the kidney and bladder energies. So strength training like resistance and weight training can be good, providing you don’t over do it to the point of exhaustion. Professional guidance from a trusted trainer, is also recommended.
 
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At this time of year, the best way to nourish our bodies is with warm, wholesome foods. Rich foods like meats and stews warm, strengthen, and support the body’s energy and digestive system. Bone broths and soups are another nutritious, warming and easily digested meal.
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Winter is the time to indulge in them, especially lamb, chicken, salmon and trout. Be mindful not to over do it though, as over indulging can unnecessarily strain your body.
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Meats cooked longer, at lower temperatures, with only small amounts of fluids, are best. Crockpots and slow cookers can be great for this, and root vegetables taste great when cooked this way!
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Making life easier when you come home at the end of a long day, to a fabulous, nutritious meal, already cooked, just add some lightly steamed vegetables, especially greens!
Great root veggies to use are: sweet potato, pumpkin, turnip, parsnip, potato, carrot and beetroot.
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For extra boosting and nourishing of the kidney energy, add flavour with: cloves, fenugreek seeds, fennel, star anise, black peppercorn, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, walnuts, black beans, onions, chives, scallions or leeks. (Not all at once!)
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Warmed wholegrains can also be a great way to warm the body in this cooler weather. Try porridge with whole oats or millet or even rice (congee) for breakfast; quinoa with dinner or a brown rice and cinnamon pudding for a warm supper treat!
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You can even add bone broth to these grains, including hidden in the dessert; to increase protein, sooth and heal the digestive system and support kidney energy.
 
The good news is that winter can be enjoyed by everyone if we nurture and nourish ourselves according to the natural elements of the season and listen to our body, noticing how it responds. Notice, nurture and nourish your body and enjoy every season! Even winter!
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Winter is the ultimate time to recharge our batteries …

Winter is the ultimate time to recharge our batteries …

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Winter is the ultimate time to recharge our batteries. While the weather is colder, keeping cosy inside seems natural and is a good way to conserve our energy. It brings our attention inwards, so we can centre ourselves, focus and reconnect with our passion. Developing our inner strength, harmony, self trust and confidence.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encourages us to live in harmony with the seasons. According to TCM, there are five: winter, spring, summer, late summer and autumn. Each season has several facets, which help us to adapt our habits as the seasons change so that we can create better balance between our bodies and the external environment, keeping our bodies and in particular, our immune system strong, naturally maintaining our health, with less effort. In this blog and the next one, we will be sharing some simple ideas to do just this.
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According to TCM, winter is connected to the element of water and the energies of Kidney and Bladder. Kidney energy is our battery pack of life. Keeping it charged up and nourished, is key to enjoying our life to the full.
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This energy is seen to be connected to the inward breath and our ability to bring in life force energy. Interestingly, Yogis believe that we each have a certain number of breathes granted to us, to last the length of our life. Yogis remind us to breath slowly and deeply, to use these breaths well and not use them up too quickly.
Kidney energy issues can be diverse, from urinary tract infections to groin pain, hair loss, teeth problems, issues of growth in teeth, hair or bones, particularly in children, even breathing problems like asthma. Bladder energy issues are commonly sciatica and lower back related problems, as you may have already guessed, if you’ve skipped ahead to the meridian line diagrams.
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Some specific things we can do to connect with and support our inner selves and strengthen our kidney and bladder energy, in the cooler temperatures, is to slow down and reflect on our lifestyles with practices such as meditation, writing, and more gentle forms of movement like walking, Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
 
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1. Nurturing ourselves inwardly with meditation and visualisations can be simple:
Take a few moments now, just to picture ideas and images of your future self and the life you intend to be living in 6 months time. Like flowers in a garden, that will bloom in spring, these seeds are planted within you and will germinate when “watered” with your attention. Taking a few minutes each day to “water” these images, allows them to grow and develop quietly and organically, getting stronger each day, through focused energy, rather than being forced or pushed.
 
2. Rejuvenation:
Have you noticed that at this time of the year, there is less light, and things around us, in nature, are slowing down? Winter is the best time to reflect on life and take time to allow our bodies to assimilate all we have been doing, learning and achieving through the year. Good quality, restful sleep is one of the best ways to nurture and rejuvenate our body, is crucial for good health and is when our bodies assimilate knowledge and process change.
 
3. Record your feelings, thoughts and dreams:
Kidney and bladder energies are all about developing trust and belief in ourselves, growing our self awareness to the point we feel confident in expressing our feelings. Maybe not to a room full of people, but to ourselves, a close friend or support group. This confidence brings with it, a sense of inner strength, peace and harmony.
By focusing on growing in these areas, by default, we set ourselves up to overcome our fears, impatience, frustrations and any sense of shame or failure we may unknowingly be carrying.
Try keeping a journal and record your feelings, thoughts and dreams. Allow all images and messages, to come to the front of your mind. Don’t judge or analyse, just write. You can always some back later and see if there are any relevant messages or repeating themes that come up for you.
 
4. Pay attention to words in your world:
Pay attention to what sorts of words you hear in your world. Hearing is the sense associated with winter and the water element, and it can give us a clue to where our natural strengths & blocks may be.  Notice how you talk to yourself: which words hit you most strongly in a conversation, on reflection or, in a heated conversation (if you have the presence of mind).
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5. Brush the kidney and bladder meridians:
Sometimes we may not get a clear sense of which emotion is holding us hostage and keeping us stuck. At these times, physically clearing our bodies, with a simple body hand brush, can make an enormous difference. The element of water, which is associated with the season of winter, is carried through our bodies through 2 channels of energy, meridian lines: kidney and bladder. Brushing our hands along either the kidney or the bladder meridians, can give an amazing sense of release and peace.
The Kidney Meridian runs from the pad of our big toe on the underside of our feet, up the inside of our legs, into the groin and up along the centre of our chest, to our collar bone, as per the diagram.
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The bladder meridian, runs from the inside corner of each eye, up the forehead and around the top of the scalp, about 1cm from the centre line, down the back of the neck, about 1cm either side of the spine, beside the shoulder blades, as far down as you can reach. Begin again, reaching up your back, as far as you can, with your whole hand, coming down beside the spine, diagonally across the buttocks, to just above the crease where the leg meets the buttocks, and straight down the back of the leg, to the heal and finally along the edge of each foot, to the outside tip of the little toes.
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The good news is that winter can be enjoyed by everyone if we nurture and nourish ourselves according to the natural elements of the season and listen to our body, noticing how it responds. Tune into our next blog, for more ideas on how to nurture and nourish your body with movement and simple good nutrition ideas, and enjoy this winter!
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